By Chris McNulty in Birmingham
Aaron McKenna wants to build his momentum again as the Monaghan man makes something of a surprise return to the ring on Friday.
The Smithborough man is a late entrant to the Hennessy Sport card at the Coventry Skydome – a card that also features his brother Stevie and fellow Sheer Sports managed Brett McGinty.
McKenna [11(8)-0] built an impressive early record through busy years in 2018 and 2019 on America’s west coast.
McKenna the younger fought once in 2020 – a defeat of Jordan Grannum in December – but had a frustrating first half of 2021, with a couple of fights fall by the wayside in America.
The 22-year-old might have been inactive from competitive arenas, but he’s been in Mexico to spar with Jaime Munguía and spent time with Luis Arias in Las Vegas.
McKenna said: “Even though I wasn’t fighting, I was all over the world getting the best sparring I could. I’ve been in with world champions and I want to show what I’ve been learning.
“The sparring I’ve got against top guys has been brilliant for me.
“Right now I just want to get as many fights as I can. The first belt I want to aim for is a European title, get into the rankings and start aiming for the world title.”
After four wins in 2019, McKenna has fought just once in the intervening 20 months.
However, that visit to the ring, last December in Redditch, saw McKenna deliver something of a statement.
McKenna stopped Grannum, who wasn’t able to appear for the third round. It remains the only time in 84 fights that Grannum has been stopped.
Now he wants to pick up the pace again and Ivica Gogosevic [12(5)-36(8)-2], a 36-year-old Bulgarian, is next in his sights.
He said: “It was difficult with no fight, especially seeing how well Stephen was doing with all the fights. Mick Hennessy has done a fantastic job with him and it was hard watching from the sidelines. I was happy for him to get the fights and I’m just relieved that I have a fight again.
“I’m really excited for this. It’s been a long time, but I’m finally fighting again. I’ve been training hard all year around. We train all the time and we stay ready. Even if we don’t have a fight date, we are still in the gym working, ready for anything.”
Friday’s Mick Hennessy promoted bill, topped by the Sam Eggington-Bilel Jkitou clash for the WBC silver middleweight title, gives McKenna the chance to shine again.
He said: “It’s great to be on a Hennessy card again. The last one I was on in December was brilliant.
“When I fought that time on Channel 5, the publicity I got out of that was amazing straight away. It’s a great set up. It’s handy for the people back at home who support me, they don’t have to set alarms for the middle of the night.”
The McKenna brothers shared spots on the bill last December, but that was played out behind closed doors.
A boisterous flock will be in the Skydome for this one, though.
McKenna said: “We have good support coming over. It’s great to share the card now that the fans are back. The last time we fought together there were no fans, but this time will be special to see the crowd there for us.”